Castlemilk Moorit sheep

Castlemilk Moorit

The Castlemilk Moorit is a short-tailed primitive breed created from the Soay, Manx, Shetland and wild Mouflon. The breed was established during the early 1900’s, by a Scottish landowner, Sir Jock Buchanan-Jardine, on his Castlemilk estate near Lockerbie in Dumfries.

In 1973 the flock was dispersed with only ten survivors; six were evacuated to the Cotswold Farm Park. By the use of a very careful breeding programme, the numbers have thankfully gradually increased.

RBST Watchlist Status: Vulnerable (500 to 900)

Commercial sheep


These sheep are from our main flock of 450 ewes which are Lleyn (pronounced ‘thlin’) and Romneys. We have these female breeds as they have very good maternal traits; they are easy lambing, milky and are protective mothers.

220 of the best ewes are bred with the Romney and Lleyn rams. The female offspring from these ewes are retained in our flock to become the next generation. The combined characteristics of their parents will make the lambs ideal to sell to other farmers to become their breeding ewes. The remaining 230 ewes are bred with either a Southdown, Suffolk or Texel ram, to produce lambs which are muscular and faster-growing, ideal for the table.

Cotswold sheep


Brought to Britain by the Romans, these sheep once roamed the Cotswold Hills in their thousands and were known as the ‘Cotswold Lion’. The hills take their name from the sheep. These were the “wolds” or bare hills, of the sheep “cots” or sheep enclosures. During the middle ages their wool was sold to produce great wealth, enabling the local merchants to build beautiful manor houses and churches.

The Cotswold has a well-developed forelock (the fringe of wool above their eyes) traditionally left on the sheep after shearing, so anyone purchasing the sheep would know the quality of their fleece.

RBST Watchlist Status: At Risk (900 to 1500)

Hebridean Goats


Legend says that Hebridean sheep were brought to this country by the Viking invaders. Previously known as the St. Kilda, the Hebridean was derived from a primitive type that used to roam much of Scotland and the islands. Having disappeared from the Hebridean islands, they survived on St. Kilda until 1930.

There are multi-horned breeds (or the archaeological evidence for them) in many of the places the Vikings settled, including the Isle of Man, Shetland, Iceland, North West Africa and the Canary Islands.

Herdwick sheep


These lovely ‘blue’ sheep are from the Lake District. They are the hardiest British breed, adapted to live in the wettest part of the country. They are not classified as a rare breed because they are still quite common in the high mountains around the lakes of Cumbria.

They are, however, restricted to a very small geographical range, which makes them potentially vulnerable to disease, or changes of fashion and they are a good example of the genetic extremes found within domestic sheep.

Jacob sheep


Jacobs are a spotted, multi-horned breed, known for being intelligent, active animals with enquiring minds. There are two distinct types; two horned and four horned. It is thought that the four horned gene originated in Britain by crossing with the Hebridean breed.

The Jacob is the breed most people think of when you mention rare breeds, although they are no longer classified as rare, thanks to the enthusiastic support of hundreds of small flock owners throughout the country.

Kerry Hill sheep

Kerry Hill

This breed was developed in the Welsh border counties, around the small village of Kerry, Powys. The earliest record of a distinctive breed carried by these hills dates back to 1809. They are strikingly attractive sheep with a white fleece. The face and legs are also white with black ears, nose, eye patches, knees and feet.

Their hardiness means good health, longevity and resistance to disease; qualities that the breed have always been renowned for.

Manx Loghtan sheep

Manx Loghtan

The Manx Loghtan breed originate from the Isle of Man and it is believed that their ancestors were brought to the Isle by Viking settlers. The word ‘Loghtan’ is Manx for a light brown (mouse) colour and correctly describes the fleece colour of this breed, which is short-woolled and short tailed, their legs bare of wool.

They are a beautiful rich brown colour when they are born and when they are shorn. For much of the year though, the sun bleaches the tips of the wool, so that they appear tan in colour. Like all the so-called ‘primitive’ breeds they shed their wool in the spring.

RBST Watchlist StatusAt Risk (900 to 1500)

Norfolk Horn sheep

Norfolk Horn

This is the traditional breed of the Brecklands of Norfolk. They were used to create the Suffolk, our most famous and popular British meat sire. It was an extensive ranging breed and they did not take well to the modern enclosure and penning of sheep. Their numbers were declining until by 1970, only 4 rams and 5 infertile ewes remained.

The Cotswold Farm Park began an emergency breeding programme (with the last remaining rams bred with Suffolk ewes) with Reading University and The Royal Agriculture Society of England. By the time the last remaining rams had died we had a small population of sheep that were over 80% purebred Norfolk.

RBST Watchlist StatusAt Risk (900 to 1500)

North Ronaldsay sheep

North Ronaldsay

This breed of sheep are descended from the Scottish crofters sheep. They were isolated on the most northerly Orkney island of North Ronaldsay for several hundred years. They lived outside the sea wall and adapted to a diet of the seaweed ‘kelp’.

In 1973 the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) purchased the island of Linga Holm which has big ‘kelp’ beds. They moved 150 sheep there as an insurance against any disease outbreaks or accidents, which could have destroyed the North Ronaldsay flock. 100 sheep were also brought South to found several mainland flocks and greatly enhance our own group, established in 1971.

RBST Watchlist Status: Endangered (300 to 500)

Portland sheep


The Portland is all that is left of the Western Tan-faced Horn, common in the South West during the Middle Ages. Legends say that Portland Sheep swam ashore from a sunken ship off the Spanish Armada.

It was the first breed of sheep in Britain able to have lambs at any time of year. Our other native breeds are only fertile in the autumn and have their lambs in spring. The foxy brown wool on new born lambs changes to grey or white during their first year.

The Cotswold Farm Park flock was established in 1970 when they were moved here from Whipsnade Zoo.

RBST Watchlist StatusAt Risk (900 to 1500)

Shetland sheep


The majority of these sheep are still located in the Shetland Islands, but in recent years large numbers have been established in the UK. Their most important characteristic historically has been that of quality wool, which formed the basis of the Shetland wool industry.

Shetlands produce the finest wool of any British breed. It is said that a 4 foot square shawl made from Shetland wool is so fine it can be pulled through a wedding ring.

Soay sheep


The ancestors of all modern sheep breeds, the Soay is a primitive breed of domestic sheep which has remained unchanged since the Stone Age by being isolated on the St. Kilda islands of Soay and Hirta, about 65km from the Western Isles of Scotland. The ancestors of this particular group were brought from the island of Hirta in the 1960’s.

They make excellent conservation grazers, as they are light weight, do not need intensive shepherding and are happy in woodland and on hillsides.

RBST Watchlist StatusAt Risk (900 to 1500)

Texel sheep


The Texel is a modern sheep and not a rare breed. It is on display at the Farm Park to show how the appearance of sheep breeds changed as demand became more specialised.

It originates from the island of Texel, one of the north-western islands off Holland, where it has been known since Roman times. In 1970, they were introduced to the United Kingdom and have since shown they are capable of withstanding the rigours of the Scottish winter without any hardship.

Whiteface Dartmoor sheep

Whiteface Dartmoor

The Whiteface Dartmoor is a breed of sheep native to Dartmoor, with their home in the heart of the National Park at Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Originally spread over Dartmoor and Exmoor, as more land became enclosed the breed was driven back to Dartmoor, where it continues as a localised breed. Changing markets caused a decline from the 1940’s onwards.

A breed society was founded in 1951 and our Livestock Manager’s great-great-uncle Cecil Caunter was the breed’s first president.

RBST Watchlist StatusAt Risk (900 to 1500)